[Dixielandjazz] Re: DRUGS AND MUSICIANS - Deja vu?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 17 15:55:12 PDT 2004

I'm with you Fred. IMO Drugs & Booze only help one play worse.

Didn't always think that was true having grown up in the jazz world of the
40's through the 60's. Almost all of us were "experimenting" and many
believed that artificial stimulants expanded your mind and your playing
ability. You could "hear and play the truth".

Then I started listening to recorded instances of playing high, vs. playing
sober. What a shock to realize that I played better sober.  Prior to that,
when I played high I sure thought, at the time, that I was really in a new
and wonderful groove.

There is nothing like impaired judgement is there? :-) VBG.

Even Bird knew that and cautioned everybody not to be like him and use
drugs. Plus he played most of his gigs sober, getting high when off the
stand. Not many of us listened to him. My contemporaries who did not kick
their preferred artificial stimulant habit  are all dead now, or barely
existing and not able to play.

When I started to play again in 1990, I stayed completely free of all
stimulants on gigs, even caffeine. So, now in my 7th decade, I feel great on
gigs, sometimes driving 190 miles roundtrip for gigs in Rehoboth Beach DE
(3 and 1/2 hour high energy jazz gigs ending at 1 AM). Even though a free
1st class room + breakfast is offered. Like to drive home because it takes
me three hours or so to come down from the natural high (that Larry
mentioned) of playing jazz. Better that, than lying in bed wide awake with
your mind racing.

The drive back is magical. Almost no traffic, couple of CDs and 2 cigars
long, it relaxes me to the point that I can take a shower and hit the bed at
the right time. Just as Martha gets up to take care of the horses. Just like
the old days when gigs went to 3 AM and musos went to bed at sunrise. The
"come down" time is perfect to listen to what the new jazz guys are playing,
or re-visit some of the old masters. Including the Glenn Gould "Goldberg
Variations", both recordings, 10 years apart and released in a set by Sony.
A great lesson in how to re-interpret the same songs. "Viva la difference."

Steve Barbone (who lost 40 lbs. this year to avoid taking Lipitor and/or
other drugs)

on 10/17/04 1:36 PM, Fred Spencer at drjz at bealenet.com wrote:

Dear Steve,
Thank you for one more informative article from the NYT. I am not, and never
have been, a member of the "medical establishment ", which seems to approve
of the uncontrolled use of propanolol in musicians.  Jazz musicians used
"chemical support" for pre-peformamce jitters long before the current
unethical, phamaceutial commercials, bolstered by drug salesmen, which tell
you "to see your doctor" for free samples. Doctors want to keep their
patients so they often comply with the patients' request, and today we have
a drugged US population.  I dealt with this to some extent in my book, "Jazz
and Death. Medical Profiles of Jazz Greats", quoting Pee Wee Erwin who said,
"I never attempted a solo performance under any circumstances in a studio
without drinling first".
To the point. Propanolol may be "relatively safe" but not safe at all to
some people. Even aspirin has serious side effects. I don't know the basis
of the trial between drug /placebo-- Juilliard/Eastman students and would
want to know about the statistical validity of the study, which has to be
objective to some degree, but the subjective assessment by "performances
that musical judges deemed superior " in the drugged group is purely
subjective. As Buck Clyton said in his autobiography "Buck Clayton's Jazz
World". "Anybody can be a critic if he so desires. I've seen critics who
just read some books and then go out snd criticize someone they don't like".
James Lincoln Collier presents a more academic, but equally scathing, review
of this topic in Chapter 9 (The Critics) of his book, "Jazz.The American
Theme Song". 
Enough, although there is a lot more.  I am a "theraupetic nihilist", which
means that I do not believe in any treatment unless it is absolutely
necessary. There may be occasions when the medically supervised use of
propanolol is justified in treating stage fright, which is not approved by
the FDA. The present uncontrolled pattern is to be deplored. Regards.

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